Word: Keyboard shortcut to paste unformatted text

July 2, 2009

Copying text from one Word document to another can be problematic, especially if you’re using templates and styles. Things can go wrong. Text can take on the styles of the destination document/template or keep its  own styles. And sometimes you don’t want to keep any of the styles in the original text — you just want to paste in the text without any formatting.

Word has several ways you can achieve this, some more convoluted than others, but as far as I know, there’s no standard keyboard command to paste text in as unformatted text. (Update: There is in Word 2010!)

Some of the standard methods within Word 2003 and 2007 are:

  • Paste the text and click the little icon at the bottom right of the pasted text, then select Keep Text only.  You have to do this immediately after pasting — as soon as you move away and do something else with the document, the icon option is gone.
  • Select Edit > Paste > Paste Special > Unformatted Text from the menu (Word 2003) OR Home tab > Paste > Paste Special > Unformatted Text (Word 2007).

But what if you have LOTS of text to paste in as unformatted text? Well, you can set up a macro in your template (e.g. Normal.dot) and apply a keyboard command for it. Then, when you need to paste in a lot of text as unformatted text, you just press the keyboard combination and it’s done.

This macro is called NoFormatPaste:

Sub NoFormatPaste()
    Selection.PasteSpecial DataType:=wdPasteText
End Sub

Add the macro to the Word template

To add the NoPasteFormat macro to your Word template:

  1. Go to Tools > Macro > Macros (Word 2003)OR Developer tab > Macros (Word 2007).
  2. In the Macro name field, type NoFormatPaste.
  3. Select Normal.dot (or whatever template you want to add this macro to) from the Macros in drop-down list.
  4. Click Create.
  5. Paste the Selection.PasteSpecial DataType:=wdPasteText line from the macro above AFTER the last and BEFORE the End Sub line.
  6. Close the Microsoft Visual Basic window.
Macro for pasting unformatted text

Macro for pasting unformatted text

Assign a keyboard shortcut to the macro

Once you’ve added the macro to your template, you can assign a keyboard shortcut to it. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Tools > Customize (Word 2003) OR Office button Office_2007_button > Word Options > Customize (Word 2007).
  2. Click Keyboard (Word 2003) OR Customize (Word 2007).
  3. On the Customize Keyboard dialog box, select Macros from the Categories list.
  4. Select NoFormatPaste from the list of macros on the right.
  5. Click in the Press new shortcut key field.
  6. Press the keys you want to assign to this function (in the example, I’ve used Alt+Z).
  7. Select the document or template where you want this function to apply (in the example, it’s the Normal.dot template).
  8. Click Assign.
  9. Click Close to close the Customize Keyboard dialog box.
  10. Close the Customize dialog box (Word 2003) OR the Word Options dialog (Word 2007).
Assign a keyboard shortcut for the macro

Assign a keyboard shortcut for the macro

Test your keyboard shortcut

  1. Open a new document based on the template you selected in step 7 above.
  2. Open an existing Word document with text you want to copy and paste into the new document.
  3. Copy the text from the existing document.
  4. Go to the new document and press Alt+Z (or the keystroke combination you assigned in step 6 above). The copied text should paste in as unformatted text.

(Thanks to David G for helping me with this)

See also:


  1. Thank you. Great tip. I use paste without formatting all the time to get things from web pages and other documents. Now I don’t need to use the mouse. I put it under alt+V as this is very similar to ctr+V.

  2. I thought of Alt+V later — you’re right, it’s very similar to the paste commands of Ctrl+V (paste from clipboard) and Ctrl+Shift+V (paste formatting).

  3. Many thanks for this right on target post. I finally got frustrated with having to ALWAYS click on the “special menu” (for lack of better words) after pasting something to change it to “keep text only.”

    I used to use Clipmate (www.ClipMate.com) to do this, which is a great, great program – but after a computer switch out, and being that I’m trying to keep my computer “lean and mean,” I was living with having to click that goofy little menu – till today. A quick Google brought me to this perfect article.

    I agree with the other comment; “CTRL+SHIFT+V” makes a little more sense; that’s what I picked – even before I read the comment. ;-)

    Thanks again!

    — Jeffrey W. Cox
    http://www.EnhanceYourOutlook.com / a productivity add-in for Outlook / Now you can add Projects with tasks and calendar items organized within!

  4. Thanks Jeffrey. But I think you meant Alt+Shift+V, right? ‘cos Ctrl+Shift+V pastes copied formatting (like the painter) by default.

  5. You learn something new everyday. I didn’t know CTRL+SHIFT+V did that; I always just use the ribbon tools for that. :o)

    I did, actually, use CTRL+SHIFT+V; felt comfortable and rememberable to me.

  6. If you have some formatting you want to apply to another piece of text, click in the already formatted bit, then do Ctrl+Shift+C to copy the formatting to the clipboard. Ctrl+Shift+V ‘pastes’ it to the other piece of text. Full info here: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/word-run-format-painter-with-the-keyboard/

  7. You see; I leared ** two ** new things this week!

    Thanks very much for your correspondence; I appreciate it.

  8. Say, question: So, I’d like to change the keystroke from CTRL+SHIFT+V to ALT+SHIFT+V like we discussed above. I opened “Normal” and went to look at the keystroke, but it doesn’t currently show it assigned (though it still works great). Am I looking for it in the wrong place? Can someone tell me how to change this?

    Again, many thanks!

  9. Hi Jeffrey

    In Word 2003, you can see what command a key combination is assigned to by opening a new blank document (based on normal.dot) and doing this:
    1. Go to Tools > Customize.
    2. Click the Keyboard button.
    3. In the Press New Shortcut Key field, press the key combination (e.g. Ctrl+Shift+V).
    4. Under the Press New Shortcut Key field, it says that it’s currently assigned to PasteFormat.
    5. Click Close.
    6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 but this time press the Alt+Shift+V combination at step 3. It should be unassigned by default.

    To assign Alt+Shift+V to PasteFormat (and therefore unassign the default Ctrl+Shift+V), do this:
    1. Go to Tools > Customize.
    2. Click the Keyboard button.
    3. Select Edit from the Categories list.
    4. Select PasteFormat from the Commands list (you can only see it after you’ve selected Edit in the Categories list). The Current Keys box says that Ctrl+Shift+V is assigned to it.
    5. To assign Alt+Shift+V instead, click in the Press New Shortcut Key field and press that new key combination. It should display as Alt+Shift+V.
    6. Select the template to save this change to (Normal.dot is the default), then click Assign.

    That should be all you need to do.

  10. Hi Rhonda —

    Thanks for your time and effort. I should have said I’m using Office 2007

    I basically interpreted your steps, and I can get to the “Keyboard” screen; but it’s not behaving as you say. I click into the New Shortcut Key field, I pres smy key combination, and it doesn’t say it’s assigned for either the new macro, or the Paste Format. Also, clicking on Paste Format in the list doesn’t show any key assignments.

    Think I can just go ahead, find the macro, assign the new key combination, and see if Paste Format comes back?

    Thanks again.

  11. […] lot of information, including copying and pasting an entire section from another document, WITHOUT pasting it as unformatted text. I suspect that’s where the problem occurred — somehow the styles got screwed up […]

  12. Yay! I’ve waited *much* too long to set up this macro. This is a lifesaver.

  13. Dear Microsoft – please have this as one of your default options in Office 2010 – or better yet, add it to an Office 2003 / 2007 update….

    Meanwhile, thanks for the tutorial

  14. Thanks so much for this, you’ve just made my work a million times easier!

  15. Thanks alot.

    Worked like a charm!

  16. […] Macro to paste copied text as unformatted text […]

  17. Perfect it works. I cannot believe I was trying to figure this out for years:)) Thanks.

  18. Thanks a lot for the tip. Just bought the coffee. Enjoy.
    Renato – Rio, Brazil.

  19. Thanks, sooooo helpful….

  20. like Amy, I waited much too long to do this!!!

  21. Thank you! This will significantly improve my working experience – I have been waiting years for this. Your help is very, very appreciated

  22. Fantastic and so simple. Thanks!

  23. That’s really fantastic information. Good post!

  24. This doesn’t work for my main purposes. If I’m copying from another word doc, or from the web, it works fine. But if I copy code from Visual Studio, I get the error: Run-time error ‘5342’: The specified data type is unavailable.

  25. Hi ebh

    Hmmm… I suspect something in the code is causing the macro to break, but I would have no idea how to identify the cause. For Visual Studio code, you might have to copy into a plain text editor like Notepad first, then copy into Word. It’s a little more cumbersome but you should get what you want.


  26. I’d been trying this a lot without any results until I realized I’m using MS Word 2010 !!!!!

    Then, I used (Record Macro) and made something like:

    Sub NoFormatPaste()
    Selection.PasteAndFormat (wdFormatPlainText)
    End Sub

    which works perfectly :)

    Thanks for inspiring me!! I rarely think of MACROS as solutions!!

  27. Thank you for this. I almost never (2-3 times a year) want to paste the formatting. So how can I set this up so unformatted pasting is the default when I open Word 2007?

  28. Hi cvh01

    In Word 2010 (and 2007 I think), you can set the default paste option.

    In Word 2010, on the Home tab click the drop-down arrow below the large Paste icon. Select Set Default Paste, then select the default paste option for various types of pasting (e.g. within the same document, between documents etc.)


  29. Any idea how to get this to work globally across all windows apps? Or specifically Outlook and Excel?

  30. Rhonda, thank you! I had created that macro, but it gave me trouble sometimes when pasting non-text data. You have just made my work a TON simpler.

  31. To paste text only, you hit Ctrl+V, Ctrl, T.

  32. Hi Laura

    I tried this, but Ctrl+V just pastes the copied (formatted) text, and Ctrl+t does nothing that I could see except change the tab indent on the ruler. How do you paste unformatted text using these keys? What sequence do you use?


  33. Rhonda, its Ctrl and then T separately, not Ctrl+T, but this works in Office 2010 only, i guess. it is not working on 2007

  34. Thanks Xuberi!

    I just tried this in Word 2007 — you’re right, it doesn’t work there, But it does work in Word 2010.

    For those following this thread, essentially what happens is that Ctrl+v pastes the copied text, then the paste options button shows (with a Ctrl next to it), so you press the Ctrl key (which activates the paste options), then you press t, which is the keyboard shortcut for the text only option in Word 2010.

    The sequence in Word 2010 is as Laura wrote on 13 November 2012 — Ctrl+v, Ctrl, t.

    I’ll add some info about this (with pictures) to the main post.

    Thanks again!


  35. […] In Word 2003 and 2007, you couldn’t easily paste copied text as unformatted text. You either had to go through several clicks in the the menus, or set up a macro and assign a keyboard shortcut to it (see this blog post for how to do this in Word 2003/2007: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/word-keyboard-shortcut-to-paste-unformatted-text/). […]

  36. Thanks to Lauren and Xuberi, I decided to write a new post on how to paste as unformatted text in Word 2010: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/word-2010-keyboard-shortcut-to-paste-unformatted-text/


  37. thanks, this is a big help. I got so frustrated while writing my report that I got here via Google. Thanks again!

  38. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been looking for this solution ever since Windows 7 came out.

  39. Using the macro command posted by Ahmed solves the Visual Studio problem:

    Sub NoFormatPaste()
    Selection.PasteAndFormat (wdFormatPlainText)
    End Sub

  40. Alternatively, in Word 2007 you could just alter the cut, copy, paste options directly in word. Office button > Word Options > Advanced. Then under ‘cut, copy, paste’ you can change the default behaviour.

  41. Great tip and tutorial. And great idea for the alt+v choice of keys. Thanks!

  42. I tried the macro in Word 2007 but get the Run-time error ‘5342’. I am copying from PowerPoint 2007 via a Ctrl+C.

  43. Just found Ninestrone’s macro and it will work for PowerPoint 2007 also.

  44. There’s a simpler method to accomplish the keyboard shortcut without creating a macro and then assigning a keyboard shortcut to it: just assign a new keyboard shortcut directly to the Keep Text Only command itself.

    Here’s how in Word 2010:
    File>Options>Customize Ribbon>Keyboard shortcuts: Customize button.
    In the Categories cell, select All Commands.
    In the Commands cell, select PasteTextOnly.
    Under Specify keyboard sequence, well, specify a keyboard sequence (none is assigned by default).

    All done!

  45. Thank you very, very much – really, really useful. Strangely I had trouble when I copied and pasted NoFormatPaste from your instructions – when I typed it in to “Name” Macro I had no problem.

  46. Totally appreciate all the tips, but I disagree that the 3-step process detailed in your “Update: There is in Word 2010!” revision I just received notification of truly qualifies as a keyboard shortcut… one, perhaps two steps, maybe. Is 3 steps any faster than right-clicking and selecting ‘paste as plain text’? Much quicker in the long run to record or write & then save the macro to a keyboard shortcut and be done with it.

  47. I agree Zeke. However, many Word users either aren’t familiar with macros, don’t know how to create one, or don’t do this action often enough to add a macro and a KB shortcut for it.


  48. Apologies Rhonda, in haste I read the update as notification of a keyboard shortcut, but in the update’s context it’s entirely appropro. I must learn to be less hasty!

  49. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you – Just what I needed.

  50. Excellent, thanks!

  51. Thanks for a useful tip.

  52. This macro was really very useful for me when I worked in Word 2007. Then I switched to Word 2016 and tried to use the same macro. Unfortunately it did not work in Word 2016. Does anybody have the same problem?

  53. Hi Zhanna

    I don’t have Word 2016 installed, but I’m surprised it doesn’t work. However, there are a couple of other ways you can do this within Word without a macro — see the Word 2010 link in the second paragraph of the post for one way.

    The other way is to assign a keyboard shortcut to the command for this in Word:
    1. File > Options > Customize Ribbon.
    2. Click the Customize button next to Keyboard Shortcuts below the left panel.
    3. Scroll down the left panel and select More Commands.
    4. In the right panel select PasteTextOnly.
    5. Assign your keyboard shortcut.
    6. Click Apply.
    7. Click OK to close the dialog boxes.
    NOTE: I’ve checked this sequence of steps in Word 2010, and I know Word 2013 is similar — I assume Word 2016 is similar too.


  54. […] toolbar icons, macros, or other features of Word to paste copied text as unformatted text (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/word-keyboard-shortcut-to-paste-unformatted-text/ and […]

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